Back in July I had the pleasure of joining Jordan McChesney on a photo adventure through Yokohama’s vivid and atmospheric night districts: Chinatown and Nogecho. Jordan pitched a photo workshop idea to EYExplore and I went out to meet him for a trial run. I had been to these areas before, and though I enjoyed exploring them I was a bit skeptical that they had enough ‘meat on the bone’ to create a visually rich and exciting 3-hour photography experience. Boy, did Jordan prove me wrong!
We met at 7pm at Motomachi-chukagai station, just outside of the famed Yokohama Chinatown, a district famed for its colorful streets and Chinese eateries. Despite the apparent visual appeal, I arrived with the flawed notion of the area being very ‘touristy’, but Jordan showed me some nooks and crannies that revealed the true soul of the neighborhood.
Jordan also shared with me his approach to street photography. A devotee of Fan Ho, Jordan prefers to employ complex layers while shooting with a longer lens from a distance. I brought with me two primes: 26mm and 40mm. I found the longer of the two to be more conducive to his approach but also matching the natural tendencies of the area—a maze of long but narrow alleys and passages, storefronts dense with signage, and colorful light of all kinds everywhere.
The denizens of the streets became more like props in larger compositions that employ the light and darkness of the area, though at times we worked closer to the shopkeepers and cooks going about their evening tasks. This was more my element, but the workshop has something for everyone, and Jordan keeps and open mind.
After a brief train ride, we made it to Nogecho, a neighboring district filled with retro Japanese izakaya, western style bars, and karaoke lounges. The streets here are wider than those in Chinatown, but the area is sprawling and has a lot to offer. I had only been to this district two or three times myself previously, and though Jordan showed me a few of his highlights, I felt we only scratched the surface. It was getting late, and I had to catch my train back home, but I felt our shooting session bore many fruits.